Best Local Speciality Food Stores
THE BEST LOCAL SPECIALITY FOOD STORES
A local’s guide to the best speciality food shops in South West London and Surrey for the best cheese, fish and ingredients from all around the world…
Words: Imogen Willis
London has an extremely diverse food scene, illustrated by the many stores where you can buy specialised ingredients for different cuisines. From fermented goods such as kimchee and sourdough starters, to Ottolenghi favourites such as sumac and pomegranate molasses, food brings excitement and variety to our lives. However, sourcing these ingredients at a high quality can be time consuming, especially when it is hard to know where to look. With that in mind, this list of local speciality food stores has got you covered the next time you want to source fine foods for a special meal or dinner party.
Ecklee Arabic Supermarket, Motspur Park
A wonderful shop a stone’s throw from Motspur Park station specialising in Middle Eastern foods. Baskets of colourful fresh fruit and vegetables line the front of the shop, with a large range of spices, pulses and middle eastern treats such as baklawa to be found inside. If you visit the shop in the morning, you can get your hands on delicious baked bread and stuffed pastries from their bakery. Make a date with their boxes of soft Medjool dates, or purchase a large bag of their amazing chillies, perfect for spicy dishes.
Table @Vallebona, Wimbledon Village
Husband and wife team, Stefano and Naoko, are the masterminds behind Vallebona, which sources exceptional Japanese and Italian products from independent producers for restaurants, chefs and home cooks. Their Wimbledon Village Shop, located opposite The Dog and Fox is a must-visit. The main room includes an array of beautifully presented pastas, antipasti, wines and Japanese delicacies. Step across the glass partition and find yourself in the maturation room, with cheeses from 15 different regions, and a selection of charcuterie. With ingredients used by top restaurants including The River Café, Trinity and La Gavroche, this will take your entertaining to the next level. They have also recently opened their Vineria wine bar in a small courtyard behind the shop, so pop in for a cocktail and apertivo.
Atari-ya foods, Kingston
A lovely small store in Kingston specialising in all things Japanese. Watch high quality fresh fish prepared in store by their fishmonger, or have sushi made to order from their menu of small boxes and party platters. For those looking to make their own Japanese meals, the supermarket stocks ingredients for popular dishes including sushi, sashimi, and ramen, alongside snacks and essentials like soy sauce and pickled ginger. They also offer a broad range of Sake imported directly from Japan by the checkout which is worth a browse for a dinnertime tipple.
Seoul Plaza, New Malden
Seoul Plaza in New Malden is the biggest of Korea Foods’ stores, stocking a wide variety of Korean ingredients and snacks. There are multiple brands and styles of kimchee to choose from, alongside instant noodles for flavoursome ramen recipes, and lots of delicious frozen dumplings, or the ingredients to make your own. This is a great place to purchase bulgogi marinade and gochujang sauce, in varying degrees of spiciness from mild to scorching for those who can handle the heat.
Life of Fish, Moyser Road, Furzedown
At the beginning of the pandemic, the owner, David, saw an opportunity to use his expertise in the fish trade to bring an amazing selection of fish to the residents of Tooting. Starting with a stall outside Cut the Mustard on Moyser Road last year, he has expanded through popular demand to his shop Life of Fish. Stocked with high quality, freshly caught fish, there is often a queue of devotees waiting outside. In February they opened a new deli counter for products such as cooked lobster, and there is a wonderful, stocked pantry full of sauces, marinades, pastes and other goodies to stock up on. Their best sellers are their salmon and king prawns, or get in early on the weekend for crab and oysters! They are always very happy to talk about cooking and preparation , so feel free to pop in for a chat if you are looking for inspiration.
Totally Swedish, Barnes
Owner, Annethe Nathan, founded Totally Swedish in 2005. Having grown up in Mönsterås, in Småland county, she wanted to bring her passion for Swedish and Nordic food to London. Stepping into the store is like experiencing a taste of Swedish living. Stock up on cured herring and gravelax, popularly eaten as part of a Midsummer feast, or ingredients for the warming dish of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce for the colder months. There is also a selection of lovely kitchen and homeware, including gorgeous wooden butter knives for spreading butter or pate on rye.
The Thai Grocer, Garratt Lane
The restaurant space at The Thai Grocer has been converted into a full-time shop of fine quality cupboard and fresh ingredients. Nestled between Earlsfield and Wandsworth, this small store is great for fresh ingredients such as lemongrass and kefir lime leaves, whilst also offering a good range of vegetarian and vegan Asian cooking essentials. The owner is friendly and helpful, happy to talk through the ingredients, and source them on the shelves. His son has also opened The Earlsfield Grocer just down the road, where Cremoloso used to be, which is a lovely place to pop in for a coffee and one of their freshly baked pastries.
Patel Brothers, Tooting
Starting with their father selling spices from their home in the early 70’s, spices have remained in the family, with this still being a favourite place for sourcing South Asian spices alongside products from India, Pakistan and East Africa on Upper Tooting Road. Step into the aisles and source harder to find spices such as black cardamom, fenugreek seeds and whole saffron, or stock up on lots of other groceries including rice, pulses and ingredients for at home bread making.
Hamish Johnston Fine Cheeses, Northcote Road
Retailer of fine cheeses based on Northcote Road. Offering a variety of hard and soft cheeses, their ethos is to ensure every customer finds a cheese that suits their tastes, and with over 150 cheeses to choose from there is something for everyone. The cheese is complemented by their freshly made bread, charcuterie meats, dried fruit and honey, providing all the essentials for a perfect smorgasbord. For die-hard cheese fans, Hamish Johnston also offer a custom-made cheese tower for weddings. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for upcoming cheese and wine tasting events which were halted during the pandemic but will hopefully make a reappearance in the upcoming months.
Looking for a perfect wine pairing with your food? Read more here…